Race Series: Factory Five Challenge Series (NASA FFR); Editor in Chief: Thunder Valley Racing
"Dream big, Work hard"
Karen's racing career began in 1985 at NASCAR Winston dirt track events in California. After securing a Most Improved Driver award and numerous top five finishes in stockcar racing, she made the move to road racing with the Vintage Auto Racing Association (VARA). Driving a 1959 Corvette, Karen competed in night endurance races and events across the Southwest. Her growing passion for racing and a desire to develop highly refined driving skills led her into performance driving Corvettes in high and low speed events with the SCCA and National Council of Corvette Clubs (NCCC).
In 2000, Karen joined the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), competing in the Women's Global GT Series. Karen has also competed in NHRA drag racing events, garnering the Gardei Memorial Overall Competitor Award in 1997 (Firebird Raceway), and Top Eliminator at the Pomona Drags in 1999. She also serves as an instructor driver at NCCC, NASA, and Track Guys driving school events, and enjoys working with novice drivers as they develop confidence through driving mastery.
Karen is a true competitor, and has secured more that 200 first place finishes in driving competitions. She followed up her 2009 multiple championship-winning season by again securing the 2010 West Coast Championship along with the 2010 Southern California Regional Championship in the Factory Five Challenge Series. 12 pole positions, 11 overall race victories, and 24 trips to the podium marked a phenomenal 2010 race season for Karen and her team, including setting track records at Infineon Raceway and Buttonwillow Raceway Park, and securing this race team's place in competition history!
Additionally, Karen is a regular competitor in the NASA Time Trial series, competing in TTA, TTS and TTU, and having secured multiple podium positions in TT competitions. Karen is the four-time recipient of the West Coast Regional Championship for the National Council of Corvette Clubs (NCCC), winner of the Gardei Memorial Overall Competitor Award (Firebird Raceway), and secured Top Eliminator honors at the Pomona Drags in 1999, and is the recipient of the 2009 NASA So Cal Instructor Driver of the Year.
2011 finds Team Thunder Valley Racing shifting their competition focus to endurance racing. Karenâs long-term goal has been to develop her own racing skills to be competitive in the endurance racing ranks. She frequently drives solo in 3-hour enduros, and works hard to get herself in the seat of her racecar, or to team up with other endurance racing teams to co-drive in endurance racing events any chance she gets. In the long run, Karenâs goal is to field/manage a top-notch endurance racing team in premier racing venues across the United States.
The team is not new to endurance racing however, having fielded their FFR Challenge Series racer, as well as their FFR Type-65 Coupe in four previous 25 Hours of Thunderhill races. In December 2010, Karen and her intrepid team took on the most extreme endurance racing challenge on the planet, competing in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Driving the Cobra in the EO Class, her determined team completed 523 grueling laps (more than 1,569 miles) under extreme race conditions, enduring steady rain and skillfully avoiding on-track incidents in very challenging conditions to successfully complete the ultimate closed-course racing competition. Team Thunder Valley Racing is already making plans for the 25 Hours race in 2011.
The team also previously competed in the Western Endurance Racing Championship (WERC) Series with their FFR Challenge Series racer, and Karen co-drove with Team Diva Speed to secure an E-2 class victory in the 6-Hours of Buttonwillow and the 4 Hours of Infineon. Additionally, Karen stood on the top spot of the podium in ES Class with co-driver Chris Durbin of Team PDG as winning drivers, and securing the overall race victory in the 3-hours of Buttonwillow in 2009. In the mid 1990âs, Karen co-drove a 1959 C-Production Corvette in vintage classes at endurance races within the Vintage Auto Racing Association (VARA), and her long-term passion for endurance racing continues today.
Thunder Valley Racing
Karen is owner and Editor-in-Chief of Thunder Valley Racing, and travels nationally to support women in racing efforts. She is an instructor driver with the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) and Track Guys, and feeds the competitive spirit through high speed competition events. Karen is a natural teacher at heart (and by profession), and truly enjoys working with novice and seasoned drivers as they develop confidence and competition skills through driving mastery.
Infineon Raceway, California (Auto Club)Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Phoenix International, Road America, Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Texas World Speedway, Road America, Virginia International Raceway, Miller Motorsports Park, Firebird International, Thunderhill Raceway Park, Willow Springs International, Buttonwillow Raceway, Spring Mountain Motorsports Park, Reno-Fernley Raceway, Pikes Peak International, Gingerman Raceway, Second Creek, Bandimere, and Autobahn Road Course Circuit. 2011 will bring Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca Raceway, Summit Point, Nelson Ledges and BeavRun.
Racing Goals: Karen's goal is to bring widespread, international attention to endurance racing. Her overall racing goal is to compete on a national or international level with a road racing team at endurance events, and shine the spotlight on the grassroots efforts of women who not only drive competitively, but work in the pits, serve on safety crews, or work up in the tower, through her efforts with the dedicated team at Thunder Valley Racing.
Personal: Karen served nine years in the U.S. Air Force as an aircraft mechanic on B-52's and KC-135 aircraft. She had several stateside assignments, as well as tours in Japan and the Philippines. In 1985 she left the military to pursue a career in education, and used the GI Bill to secure her college education while working full time as a service manager at a motorcycle shop. She earned her bachelorâs degree in 1989, became an elementary school teacher for the next seven years, and then served as a school principal for eight years.
Karen currently serves as Assistant Superintendent of Education Services for the Romoland School District in Southern California. She holds a Doctorate in organizational leadership, and a Master's Degree in education. Her daughter Tracy is an aspiring racecar driver, and enjoys track events in her 2004 SVT Mustang Cobra.
Special Thanks: Karen is grateful for the support of her loving family, professional colleagues, and many racing friends who believe in her and have helped her follow her dreams. Special thanks to Dave Smith, owner Factory Five Racing, to Mark Dougherty for his guidance and hands-on support with the development of the Coupe, and to Jerry Hoffman and John Card at DIY AutoTune, Doug at Raptor Racing, Ted Falk, owner Replica Promotions, Roman Vaisman owner Ezlogy, Bill Robertson Tracy Marshall, Tracie Card, Allen Parkinson, Carlos Coronel & Josh Loe at Think Tank Creative Consortium, DSS Motors, Hank Lopez , David Borden, Russ Thompson, Track Guy (Dawg) Mitchell Pinnix, SVTOA Track Dawgs Josh Bligh and Jeremy Bligh, Jeff Collins owner Whitby Motorcars, Richard Oben owner North Racecars, Terry Free and Cynthia Dora, owners Team Free Racing, TC & BaLinda McNett, owners TC Motorsports/AlarmCo, Inc., Ryan Althoff, Molly McCarthy, Rich Cobb, John Marsey, and big thanks to Crew Chief Andy Salvaggio for keeping both cars on track and on the competitive edge all season!
We also owe a debt of gratitude to the hundreds of forum members at FFCars.com for providing their support, technical advice, and encouragement all season long, as well as to Jerry Kunzman and all the folks at NASA for making Grassroots Racing possible. We did it!! Thank you!